HLAUDI WANTS IT ALL

CityPress - - Front Page - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng has vowed not to stop at 90% lo­cal con­tent on SABC ra­dio sta­tions; he will blow his winds of change through pub­lic TV too. “I have been chair­ing a meet­ing where I have been deal­ing with this is­sue of con­tent. I am go­ing to re­vamp SABC3. It will be 80% lo­cal movies,” he told City Press in an in­ter­view on Thurs­day.

“It is painful for me when we go and in­ter­act with film mak­ers. They tell me they go out­side when we have our own SABC. We want to be at a place where South Africans can pro­duce their own movies in their own lan­guages and English, so we can com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

Mot­soe­neng says he wants more to lo­cal dra­mas and soapies than a cul­tural an­gle. He wants au­then­tic­ity, where shows are pro­duced in ac­tual lo­ca­tions and not ex­clu­sively in SABC stu­dios.

“Don’t worry about risk. Risk is me and I own up to it. But I know this is a good risk,” he in­sists.

It’s mid­day Thurs­day and Mot­soe­neng has been trend­ing on Twit­ter since the early hours of Wed­nes­day. It is noth­ing new.

Ev­ery few months, the ec­cen­tric chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer is bound to make head­lines for some or other out­ra­geous re­mark. But to­day is dif­fer­ent. Re­laxed, sit­ting on a plush pur­ple couch, dressed up in a suit, also pur­ple, Mot­soe­neng is bois­ter­ous and up­beat. In typ­i­cal fash­ion, he has overnight an­nounced – seem­ingly out of nowhere – that the SABC will from now on play 90% lo­cal mu­sic across its 18 ra­dio sta­tions.

One can’t tell that he has been up since the early hours, mon­i­tor­ing to see if what he said should be im­ple­mented just hours be­fore it was in fact done.

“Who will be com­plain­ing? I’m in charge. How will you com­plain to me when I’m in charge?” he re­sponds when asked about what must have been a sig­nif­i­cant back­lash.

“I know that peo­ple are say­ing it is a risk, but risk is a part of me. I like risk be­cause if I can’t take a risk, it means we can’t move as a coun­try to change South Africa, es­pe­cially on the con­tent side. I al­ways in­tro­duce risk in life be­cause part of my job is to take that risk and I am glad that we are say­ing, fi­nally, 90% South African mu­sic.”

Mot­soe­neng in­sists that the de­ci­sion was made af­ter wide con­sul­ta­tion and many meet­ings with both mu­si­cians and in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­ers over months. But eye­brows have been raised about what the move will mean for com­mer­cial sta­tions, which make a lot of their money from spon­sors and en­dorse­ments in col­lab­o­ra­tion with in­ter­na­tional acts. Mot­soe­neng in­sists the same rules will ap­ply. “You see, some­times, I just take de­ci­sions in the in­ter­ests of the cit­i­zens, be­cause my view is that we need to change the mind-sets of peo­ple,” he says in re­sponse to a ques­tion on whether com­mer­cial sta­tions were con­sulted.

“Why can’t our own com­pa­nies in­vest in lo­cal con­tent? Why do they want to in­vest in in­ter­na­tional con­tent when we have our own peo­ple? When the banks and other big com­pa­nies are ben­e­fit­ing from South Africans, why can’t they in­vest back?

“Why are they will­ing to in­vest money in an ap­pear­ance by Bey­oncé, for ex­am­ple, but not for our own peo­ple? The only dif­fer­ence be­tween those artists and us is that we don’t be­lieve in our­selves.”

Mot­soe­neng has de­clared his de­ci­sion an “in­no­va­tion”.

While some re­ports claim the de­ci­sion will be im­ple­mented as a pi­lot project over the next three months, Mot­soe­neng in­sists: “There is no three months.

“It is not like af­ter three months we’re not go­ing to have this 90%. We will re­view and put mea­sures in place to as­sist where nec­es­sary.”

Mot­soe­neng says the move does not mean that only Afrikaans mu­sic will be played on RSG, or that Sotho mu­sic will be played on Lesedi FM. His vi­sion is that all dif­fer­ent gen­res will be played across all 18 sta­tions.

Metro FM’s old school R&B Sun­days have be­come an in­sti­tu­tion of sorts in many homes across the coun­try. Will there be less Mariah Carey and Luther Van­dross? “It will be lo­cal mu­sic 90%, 10% in­ter­na­tional.” Af­ter a brief mo­ment, he adds: “I think the is­sue that I need to check, I know some of them are spon­sored. I said to the team we must still meet about it, but I still be­lieve I will just de­cide. It de­pends on the im­pact, on how much is the value. If there is no value, I don’t see any rea­son they should keep it.”

Mot­soe­neng wants it to be known that this move is for South Africans: it will cre­ate jobs, give much-needed ex­po­sure to lo­cal acts, and teach South Africans about them­selves and where they come from.

“If I fall, good. At least I tried some­thing spe­cial. In this po­si­tion that we hold, you can’t be afraid of tak­ing a risk. Even if the ma­jor­ity of the team at the SABC says no, we don’t agree with you, as long as I be­lieve.”

Who will be com­plain­ing? I’m in charge. How will you com­plain to me when I’m in charge? HLAUDI MOT­SOE­NENG

“PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH SEJAKE

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